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County looks at rules for wind turbines at schools

Cascade County is considering creating setbacks to protect properties from wind development, including schools. But should schools be exempt from the rules? That's the question Cascade County commissioners must decide, Planning Director Brian Clifton said.

Cascade County is considering creating setbacks to protect properties from wind development, including schools.

But should schools be exempt from the rules?

That's the question Cascade County commissioners must decide, Planning Director Brian Clifton said.

A setback is the distance between the tower and other properties.

Under new rules being considered, the setback distance would equal the height of the tower and blade length, plus an additional 20 feet.

When schools are in the vicinity, the setback would be greater - 1,000 feet.

But the schools themselves would be exempt from the 1,000-foot proposal, allowing them to erect turbines if they chose.

Commission Chairman Joe Briggs said he has a problem with exempting schools if the issue is ensuring safety.

"If it's a safety issue it's a safety issue," he said.

A public entity should be exempt from the rules while private parties are forced to comply, he added.

But Commissioner Peggy Beltrone said she doesn't want to prevent schools from putting up turbines, either. C.M. Russell High School, which is not in the county's jurisdiction, has a wind turbine, she noted.

Wind turbines not only provide green electricity... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Cascade County is considering creating setbacks to protect properties from wind development, including schools.

But should schools be exempt from the rules?

That's the question Cascade County commissioners must decide, Planning Director Brian Clifton said.

A setback is the distance between the tower and other properties.

Under new rules being considered, the setback distance would equal the height of the tower and blade length, plus an additional 20 feet.

When schools are in the vicinity, the setback would be greater - 1,000 feet.

But the schools themselves would be exempt from the 1,000-foot proposal, allowing them to erect turbines if they chose.

Commission Chairman Joe Briggs said he has a problem with exempting schools if the issue is ensuring safety.

"If it's a safety issue it's a safety issue," he said.

A public entity should be exempt from the rules while private parties are forced to comply, he added.

But Commissioner Peggy Beltrone said she doesn't want to prevent schools from putting up turbines, either. C.M. Russell High School, which is not in the county's jurisdiction, has a wind turbine, she noted.

Wind turbines not only provide green electricity for schools, but also serve as "training devices," she said. "They're an integral part of the curriculum."

Clifton said his office checked out setbacks for schools in jurisdictions in other states, and they ranged from none to 2,500 feet.

"That one they're going to have to figure out," said Clifton, referring to commissioners.

The proposed new wind rules are just one subset of the zoning regulations the county is proposing to modify.

The zoning changes will be the subject of a public hearing at Tuesday's commission meeting.

Clifton said the county already has rules that regulate towers, such as those set up by cell phone companies.

The distance of the setback between the tower and another structure is the height of the tower plus 20 feet.

But the new rules incorporate wind generation.

Under the proposed new rules, a special-use permit, which costs $450, no longer would be required for property owners to put up smaller turbines.

"It makes it easier to put wind turbines up," Clifton said.

In the updated zoning rules, the county is proposing to limit ownership of animals on residential property to two large-hoofed animals per acre and four small-hoofed animals per acre on residential property. An example of a large-hoofed animal is a horse, while small-hoofed animals include goats and pigs.

The Planning Board, which worked on the zoning modifications, originally considered more restrictive hoofed-animal rules but modified the original plan after hearing from the public, Clifton said.


Source: http://www.greatfallstribun...

JUL 9 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/21054-county-looks-at-rules-for-wind-turbines-at-schools
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